Driving innovation within a company | Vodafone

Many companies are beginning to focus on developing various types of inter-organizational innovation programs, and in some cases, these programs have been around for years. These programs have often involved external parties such as startups. In fact, they have produced a stream of inter-organizational improvements, and brought to life new products, new services, and innovative ideas. It’s a win-win relationship, in which both parties - big companies and startups - are able to derive valuable advantages. This is because companies can align themselves with the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit of startups, and attain constant progress, while startups get resources and the necessary support to scale into the market.

In an interview with Fátima Cardoso, we learned about how Vodafone Portugal helps foster and build innovation.

Vodafone Power Lab is Vodafone's open innovation program, created together with Audax-ISCTE. Starting in 2009, it has evolved and grown in its support for the Portuguese innovation ecosystem. Its main goal is to create partnerships with new projects whose scope and results are suited to Vodafone's business strategy and activities. Here are some highlights of the interview:

They hone their focus and face their challenges

According to Fátima, this wasn’t always the focus of Vodafone. Two years ago they were committed to making projects grow into businesses. Currently, they are looking to work with more mature startups in order to promote these successful partnerships. “We saw and we identified the need to grow our own program”. - according to Fatima.

Vodafone identified a challenge when expanding early-stage startups’ businesses, as they couldn’t continue these projects. So, they decided to change the way they worked with startups and created a more mature program. According to Fátima, the challenges are now less. "Of course they are still happening and we need to have resources allocated to the projects, we need to communicate with the teams... But these are the challenges we find in our day-to-day lives, regardless of the role we have, and it is our own work to face them.”

They look for the best

What kind of startups can work with Vodafone? First, the startup must be technology-based. However, to participate in this program it is necessary for the startup to provide a solution that Vodafone really needs, and that adds value to the business. They must therefore have the maturity to fulfill at least one of these four pillars:

  1. Become customers;

  2. Become suppliers;

  3. Become partners for brand activation;

  4. Develop a product or service that suits the Vodafone portfolio.

Do you want to know more about Vodafone Power Labs? Find out more in the video below or listen to the full interview on our Spotify Podcast.

This episode is part of the Scaleup Portugal video and podcast series, a spin-out from our comprehensive ecosystem reports, which we wrote in collaboration with EIT Digital. A new episode of this 2nd season about ENABLERS is released every Wednesday. Stay tuned for the next episodes!

Also read: Consulting firms and their role in catalyzing innovation | everis